In a surprise move our state legislature did succeed in passing a gang bill during this session. The only problem is that it’s the wrong one.
Unlike the failed HB 1126, which would have disrupted gang activity through injunctions, Senate Bill 5242 will now be a tool for outlaw motorcycle groups to circumvent our state traffic laws. This measure has passed through our legislature, been signed by the governor and been added to RCW 43.101 as of April 13.
The bill was written because our state officials agree that law enforcement officers have been unfairly profiling motorcycle riders, and enough is enough. After some focused thought on the matter, my best attempt at an eloquent response is, “Huh?”
If police officers have shown any special interest in targeting motorcyclists for extra enforcement, then that would be news to me. Along with many of my fellow police officers, I am a motorcycle rider and enthusiast. About the only consistent comment I hear when police officers contact riders is, “Nice bike.”
Nevertheless, I am pretty sure I know who sold our lawmakers on this fiction—the aforementioned outlaw motorcycle groups. These are not your “Wild Hogs,” as portrayed by John Travolta and his crew. These are clubs such as the Bandidos and Hell’s Angels that, like our local criminal street gang the Hilltop Crips, have been identified as a criminal organization. Like the Crips, the outlaw clubs have been the target of federal investigations as a result of narcotics trafficking and violence. Gangs and outlaw clubs share a similar mindset, as evidenced by the typical Facebook page of a local Bandido who described one of his interests as “taking care of snitches.” Unlike the Crips, the outlaw motorcycle clubs have some Hollywood cache and an excellent P.R. machine.
Back to the new state law.